A couple of years ago, I felt the pull of my inner 10-year-old and bought a pack of Topps’ Allen & Ginter series baseball cards. Out of it I pulled a couple of current stars, a few rookies and a guy named Robert Scott. I’d never heard of Robert Scott. I immediately felt embarrassed.
The back of his card explained immediately that Scott had been a star in the Negro Leagues, the circuit created as a result of the exclusion of those whose skin was deemed too dark to compete in the majors. It’s the ugliest stain on the game’s history, but born out of a policy based on hatred is a rich history of some of the most entertaining baseball ever played.
There were untold talents in those leagues, players who would’ve dazzled in the national spotlight, forced instead to dazzle for fans across the country, playing side lots, school fields and the occasional Major League park for amazed crowds. That story is often told through oral histories and anecdotes, best absorbed in biographies and the occasional documentary.
But the people of Baseball-Reference.com have done a wonderful thing this week. As part of their already dizzying catalog of baseball history, they’ve unveiled their Negro Leagues statistics, a database of accomplishments official league games, pulled from more than 40 years of box scores and newspaper reports. (more…)